Making the Most of It

April 25, 2008 § 3 Comments

It’s worth it to make the most out of your rotary cutting tools. This pile of block parts came from 24 fat quarters and took less than 2 hours of cutting, start to finish! And that included a phone call and the taking of the photos.

In my humble opinion, the best part in the process of making a quilt is choosing the fabric. The cutting is my least favorite and needs to be as smooth, efficient and painless as possible. So… here are a few tips to make the cutting go a little bit faster.

1. Cut through more than 1 layer of fabric at a time if at all possible. I think 3 layers is perfect, 2 is not enough and 4 is the most I will go. After 4 layers of fabric, the ruler becomes a little wobbly and cutting errors are more likely to happen.

2. Use your ruler and your mat optimally for quicker cutting and less mistakes. These fat quarters were cut into 4-inch strips. To make it easier to find the 4” mark, I lined up the edge of the fat quarter at 20-inches on my mat and then cut at 16, 12, 8, and 4. Or you could cut them in reverse… 4, 8, 12, and 16. But I seem to cut straighter going the opposite direction. Weird, huh?

3. Find out if there are other tools or rulers that will make the process easier. I am making a whole quilt of flying geese blocks and there are a number of ways to cut and sew them. These rulers – the Easy Angle & the Companion Angle – use the least amount of fabric and make cutting the triangles less painful.

For a quick overview, you can cut the triangles for a flying geese block using these methods:

A) Traditional Method using templates or cutting squares and then cutting in half again.
B) Stitch & Flip Method.
C) Foundation Paper Piecing Method.
D) Patti R. Anderson’s No Waste Method.
E) Strip Cutting Method – utilizing the Easy Angle & Companion Angle rulers (and I’m sure there are at least a couple of other brands that use this method as well)

My finished block size is 7-inches square and consists of 2 Flying Geese blocks measuring 3 1/2″ x 7″.

Cut 4″ Strips of fabric.

Using the Companion Angle, cut as many Geese Triangles as needed. You can see the small 4 at the bottom confirms that I have a 4″ strip of fabric and the large 7 indicates a finished block size of 7.

Flip the ruler over and continue cutting more Geese Triangles.

Cut 4″ strips of fabric for the “sky” or corners of the Flying Geese blocks.

You can see that the ruler lines up at the 4″ mark, ready to cut those half-square triangles.

Flip the ruler over and it has markings on the back side as well. Again, the 4″ marking lines up with my fabric strip.

With these rulers, I can make 8 Flying Geese blocks from every pair of light/dark fat quarters. With some of those other construction methods listed above, it would have been considerably less.

One half of a finished block. A hundred and something (closer to 200) more to go. Now I can take a few moments every day and chain piece a few blocks until they are all finished.

§ 3 Responses to Making the Most of It

  • Tami says:

    Okay, so ironing is my least favorite part of sewing but picking fabric for a quilt comes in #2…but only sometimes. I LOVE picking out fabric for small projects but once I’m looking at a queen or king size quilt, I spend forever picking out the fabric, take it home and do it to it and then once I’m half way done sometimes decide that I really dislike the combo. What’s a girl to do?

  • joan debolt says:

    Oh thank you. I am not experienced in the quilt department and have a ton of great fat quarters in batik I just might put together. No pink so that slows me down.

  • susan says:

    firstly, i love that brown fabric, who is it by? secondly thank you so much. i have never tried flying geese and was just in a quilt store yesterday and they were talking about them, and then i see this…..i think someone is trying to tell me something! i will give it a go!

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